Posted December 07, 2013

Tre Mason, Auburn outlast Missouri to win SEC title and complete miracle turnaround

Auburn, Missouri Tigers, SEC
Auburn's Tre Mason

Tre Mason rushed for 303 yards and four touchdowns in Auburn’s victory over Missouri. (Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI)

ATLANTA — Just last weekend, when many thought it couldn’t be done, Auburn ran for 296 yards against the SEC’s top rushing defense in a thrilling 34-28 Iron Bowl victory over Alabama. On Saturday against Missouri, which entered the game with the conference’s second-ranked rushing defense, Auburn’s ground game was even more impressive — and the prize was an SEC championship.

Tailback Tre Mason rushed for SEC title game records 303 yards and four touchdowns on 45 carries, and No. 3 Auburn beat No. 5 Missouri 59-42 in a shootout at the Georgia Dome. Auburn gained 676 yards of total offense, including 544 on the ground, to clinch a BCS bowl berth and keep its hopes for a spot in the national title game alive.

Auburn did not need a magical finish on Saturday, a departure from the last two weeks when the Tigers defeated both Georgia and Alabama on miraculous, last-second plays. Mizzou simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter of a game in which both teams moved the ball at will.

The fireworks started early. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates midway through the first quarter, and Missouri responded with a 28-yard scoring strike of its own, from quarterback James Franklin to Dorial Green-Beckham (who had six catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns) on the ensuing possession. With four minutes left in the opening quarter, Marshall scored on a nine-yard run to push Auburn’s lead to 14-10.

The second quarter brought more of the same, though Mizzou got some points from its defense. Tigers cornerback E.J. Gaines recovered a Marshall fumble and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown to give coach Gary Pinkel’s team a 17-14 lead and some much-needed momentum. But Auburn responded with two long drives that ended with touchdown runs by Mason, and went into the locker room ahead 28-27.

The combined 55 first-half points set an SEC Championship Game record, besting the previous mark of 42 set by Auburn and South Carolina in 2010. Mason — who has suddenly emerged as a dark-horse Heisman Trophy contender — and Auburn ripped through Missouri for 286 rushing yards before the break.

After a back-and-forth third quarter that ended with Auburn leading 45-42, the Tigers began to pull away in the fourth. With less than five minutes to play, Missouri trailed 52-42 and went for it on a critical fourth-and-one from its own 13-yard line. Auburn cornerback Chris Davis — yes, that Chris Davis — batted down Franklin’s pass to force a turnover on downs; on the very next play, Mason sprinted into the end zone to lock up the title.

Mizzou’s previously stout defense did not seem to present much of a challenge to Auburn. Before Saturday, Missouri hadn’t allowed more than 28 points in a game all season. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s offense scored that many in the game’s first 30 minutes, and finished with a staggering 59.

Now, Auburn must sit and wait. If both top-ranked Florida State and No. 2 Ohio State win their respective conference championship games, the debate will rage over whether the one-loss Tigers deserve to jump either program into the BCS title game. But for Auburn, simply being in that conversation is remarkable. No turnaround story this season has been more impressive than the Tigers’, as Malzahn has completely transformed a team that went 3-9 (0-8 in the SEC) in 2012.

It took a lot of grit and a little bit of magic, but Auburn has once again ascended to the top of the SEC.

14 comments
oldguy68
oldguy68

I think both teams deserve a lot of kudos on their seasons. At the beginning of the season I sure would not have picked either team  in the top 5 going into the last game of the season

banghartlaw
banghartlaw

Auburn has been fun to watch this year.  After watching Missouri, can only imagine how many points an FSU offense can put up on Auburn.  It will be a track meet.   100+ points scored? 


Apparently FSU has a good defense, too.  (understatement)  Does SEC's best have a chance?

tony34
tony34

As a Bama fan i feel great today. I am very insecure and do not root for one team but for 14!!!!! 


YEAHHHHHHH SEC, SO NICE ROOTING FOR 14 TEAMS


ROLL DAM BABIES!!!!!

AllisGrace
AllisGrace

Tonight Auburn's favorite Big 10 team Michigan State blind sided OSU! Auburn should now represent the SEC in the BCS championship game against Floroda State. Again well down Auburn and to the Auburn nation congratulations on a remarkable season. All this following last week's epic win shows how special this team is. Well done, Auburn and Michigan State tonight.

barfield.j
barfield.j

THANK YOU SPARTY!! WAR EAGLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

barfield.j
barfield.j

WAR EAGLE!! PASADENA HERE WE COME!!

AllisGrace
AllisGrace

Congratulations to Auburn, Coach Malzhan, and the Auburn fans for a great season in the SEC. This team left no doubt about who is the best team in the SEC this year. All of these accomplishments came following a season where they went 0 - 8 in conference play to conference champions and perhaps a spot in the BCS championship game.  Well done Tigers and best wishes for the highest bowl tomorrow. However it all plays out, it is Auburn who changed the BCS championship landscape this year and that is quite an accomplishment.

Unforgiven_3
Unforgiven_3

To HELL with Auburn playing another criminal QB!!!

BigRedMachine
BigRedMachine

I'm kind of hoping Ohio State loses. I think Auburn is the better team and would beat Florida State in the national championship game.

oldguy68
oldguy68

I'd certainly bet on FSU, but their competition aside aside from Clemson has been underwhelming

RandyGivogue
RandyGivogue

I agree with everything you say except they left no doubt they were the best team, they needed a miracle at home to defeat two teams that at least one would beat on a neutral field ...I love them though, go auburn...

Oldtimeduffer
Oldtimeduffer

Agreed!  Go Sparty! (This from a Washington Husky)

barfield.j
barfield.j

That's a typical Tide fan, zero sportsmanship.  We have to put up with this mentality, but its worth it!! WDE!!